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article imageDoes too much hygiene cause diabetes?

By Tim Sandle     Jan 26, 2014 in Health
The incidence of auto-immune diseases like type 1 diabetes and allergies has risen dramatically in developed countries over the past 50 years. Some medics think that the cause is linked to the "hygiene hypothesis."
In medicine, the hygiene hypothesis is a theory that states that a lack of early childhood exposure to infectious agents, certain microorganisms (such as gut bacteria or probiotics), and parasites increases susceptibility to allergic diseases by suppressing the natural development of the immune system.
Examining this theory, an EU-funded project, called Diabimmune is considering the hypothesis in relation to diabetes and allergic conditions.
The project has been studying about 2,000 children between the age of three and five years old and 300 babies, who are up to three months old. The participants were followed over a period of three years from 2010 to 2013.
The study is based on an array of tests. Families had to respond to an extensive questionnaire covering the child's home environment, contact with animals, diet and family predisposition to immune related diseases, such as allergies. Children were also subjected to a battery of tests including blood and stool samples, allergy, and the presence of dust under the child's bed was even recorded.
The project scientists now need to analyze the data and the tens of thousands of samples collected to try to identify the bacteria involved, or if, in fact, it is the total number of infections rather than a specific germ that is the critical factor. Should the project find specific bacteria, this would open the prospect of developing preventive therapies through vaccines or probiotic additives to food products.
More about Diabetes, Hygiene, Type 1 diabetes, Allergies, hygiene hypothesis